ISSUE 50

RELEASE DATE: 28 May, 2015

EDITORIAL BY Amaru Villanueva Rance

Five years ago Bolivian Express was born between a japanese restaurant and a lift on Avenida 20 de Octubre in La Paz. During the clunky journey from the ground floor to the 17th storey, two young gentlemen and a Swiss-Indian chica lamented the absence of an English-language publication in the country; two notable predecessors—the Bolivian Times and Llama Express—were sadly no longer in circulation. And so the name of the magazine was born as a portmanteau of sorts, an homage to the magazine’s forebearers.

We were determined to find a viable way of printing a quality free publication, given the erratic nature of local advertising revenues and shortage of local English-language journalists. A further (Irish) founder was enlisted and six university friends were boarded on a plane, kidnapped to serve as editorial guinea pigs. It became clear to the founding team that an ideal way of sustaining the project as a whole would be to combine it with a journalism training programme.

What started off as a magazine for tourists quickly turned into something else. After the first 10 issues, we had already covered all the well-trodden festivities and attractions the country is probably best known for. The continuous challenge has been to find new stories from which everyone, including the local audience, can learn something new. Indeed, over half of our readers are native Spanish speakers, so we are as committed to writing for them as we are for the uninitiated in Bolivia. This work has brought us close to people we would perhaps never have had an excuse to get to know: from former presidents, ministers and local sporting heroes, to Michael Jackson impersonators, prisoners serving life sentences and private investigators.

Since our unconventional beginnings, the project has involved over 120 people from 20+ countries worldwide who have come to volunteer as part of the effort.Today, the Bolivian Express team of volunteers live and sleep in a shared house as they explore the country, its stories and cultures with the help of a local team. By looking beyond the salt-flats and ancient ruins, their mission is to bring new eyes to this infinite land. If they leave as cultural ambassadors, rather than just tourists, the project has achieved one of its aims. And, of course, by flicking through these pages you, the reader, are closing the circle and helping to complete this project’s mission.

Over the years we have also worked with a large number of people across the world: editors scattered across San Francisco, New York and Caracas, a web developer in Berlin, an editor and marketing director somewhere in the Swiss alps, and even a virtual assistant in Bulgaria (hey, Pavlin). As past team members have taken on new challenges, others have appeared and have reshaped the project anew. With this, our 50th issue, we are incredibly proud to say that Bolivian Express has a life of its own; it exists as something greater and wiser than the people who have made it possible so far.

Thank you for being a part of this journey.

ARTICLES FROM THIS ISSUE

Gay Bar

28 May, 2015 | Eliza Wood

PHOTO: ELIZA WOODEl cementerio de elefantes is a graveyard in Africa filled with the corpses and bones of elephants who go to die there when they know their life is about to end. ‘Elephant graveyards’...

Crouch Down and Eat: Street Food in La Paz

28 May, 2015 | Adriana Murillo

ILLUSTRATION: OSCAR ZALLESIt can be said that a large percentage of Bolivians have eaten agachaditos. The word ‘agachadito’ means ‘crouch’, but in reality, it is more than its literal meaning. It mean...

El Ojo del Inca

28 May, 2015 | Adriana Murillo

PHOTO: THELMA FANOLATwenty-five kilometers from the city of Potosí, in Tarapaya and across a rocky canyon that arrives at ‘the Devil’s Cave’ (according to locals, a place where the Devil resides) and...

Labour Day: May the 1st

28 May, 2015 | Adriana Murillo

ILLUSTRATION: FREEPIK.COMIn Bolivia, the origins of unionism lie in the revolution of 1952, a moment in time that was a determining factor consolidating the start of the representation of the working...

Years in Prison

28 May, 2015 | Eliza Wood

PHOTO: IVAN RODRIGUEZ PETKOVICOver the past five years, a string of gutsy interns from Bolivian Express has ventured inside some of Bolivia's most notorious prisons. In 2011, Matthew Grace, an editor...

Clown Bar

28 May, 2015 | Mila Araoz

The bar El Acuario is hidden deep amongst the busy, traffic-filled streets in the commercial district of Max Paredes. Behind three women selling chicharrón lie some steep steps leading down to the 'El...

Dia de los Perros

28 May, 2015 | Eliza Wood

PHOTO: VALERIA WILDEDía de los Perros is celebrated on August 16—the feast day of St. Roque, the 14th-century Majorcan patron saint of dogs, who was nursed back to health by a canine whilst suffering...

Drunk and Wishing for Death

28 May, 2015 | Eliza Wood

ILLUSTRATION: OSCAR ZALLESEl cementerio de elefantes is a graveyard in Africa filled with the corpses and bones of elephants who go to die there when they know their life is about to end. ‘Elephant gr...

Grafitti

28 May, 2015 | Eliza Wood

PHOTO: ELIZA WOODWhen Martha Cajías' mural entitled "The Kallawga" was vandalised in February, several people took to social media to publicise their outrage. The mural located on La Avenida Sánchez L...

Tinku

28 May, 2015 | Eliza Wood

PHOTO: CATEY STAHLEach May, crowds of indigenous Bolivians flood the streets of the small town of Macha, in southern Bolivia, to take part in a fiesta lasting several days. Despite initial appearances...

Singani: Bolivia's National Liquor

28 May, 2015 | Eliza Wood

It is clear, just by the number of different singani-based drinks—such as the chuflay and té con té—along with the plethora of bottles lining the shelves of any Bolivian supermarket, that singani is p...

Bolivia and Barbie

28 May, 2015 | Eliza Wood

Klaus Barbie, a man who described himself as a ‘superman’ for being a member of the SS during the height of the Nazi occupation of France, was also described as a ‘savage’ by one of his torture victim...

El Alto Cholets

28 May, 2015 | Emily Cashen

ILLUSTRATION: MARCELO VILLEGASAgainst a backdrop of half-finished houses and buildings fashioned from exposed red brick, El Alto's Neo-Andean Cholets are almost impossible to ignore. From their blindi...

Familia Galán

28 May, 2015 | Emily Cashen

PHOTO: K-OS GALÁNWith the twirling skirts of the Kulluwada dancers, the booming backdrop of constant live music and the mile-long water fights along El Prado, Carnival in La Paz is always a vibrant af...

Roberto and La Costilla

28 May, 2015 | Emily Cashen

PHOTO: ELIZA WOODLa Costilla: a 5am refuge, a kaleidoscopic trip down the rabbit-hole, a time vortex where night magically morphs into day. Like Sopocachi's own Room of Requirement, this bar of wonder...

Mennonite Community

28 May, 2015 | Emily Cashen

PHOTO: CREATIVE COMMONS, THIS IS NATAHANIEL, TREY RATCLIFFReligion is a topic that has often graced the pages of the Bolivian Express, be it from examining the country's dwindling Jewish population to...

Fortune Tellers

28 May, 2015 | Emily Cashen

Here in La Paz, fortune telling is big business. Steeped in the city's history and rich in Aymara culture, this practice is revered by superstitious locals, many of whom would choose a consultation wi...

Add me on Facebook

28 May, 2015 | Emily Cashen

'"Kusawa", that's Aymara for "like"', Ruben Hilari tells me, as he scrolls down the Facebook homepage excitedly on his phone. Contained in these iPhone pixels is Ruben's latest labour of love, Aymara...

Flaviadas

28 May, 2015 | Emily Cashen

PHOTO: ALEX AYALAStrolling down Avenida Ecuador early on a Saturday evening, you may very well be greeted by the sound of a Bach melody floating on the breeze. Following this symphony will lead you th...

ENTERING: Little Bolivia, USA

28 May, 2015 | Emily Gray

PHOTO: DAVID CLOWFor nearly my whole life, I’ve lived in Boston, a city that captures the US’s image as a melting pot of religions, languages and cultures. Growing up, I didn't have to leave my hometo...

Alasita

28 May, 2015 | Emily Cashen

PHOTO: MICHAEL DUNN CACERESWhat is it you seek? Be it love, money, or even a new car, you are free to pursue your desires at the annual Alasita festival in La Paz. Each January, the chaotic city stree...

A Series of Unimaginable Purchases

28 May, 2015 | Emily Gray

Photo: Valeria WildeWelcome to El Alto Market, the famous open-air marketplace of La Paz’s looming sister city, where you can find just about everything you never knew you wanted. Like nearly everyone...

Born in Bolivia

28 May, 2015 | Emily Gray

PHOTO: NICK SOMERSThe topic of adoption in Bolivia holds a special place in the lives of two former BX interns: Catey and Christof. Both of them were adopted as infants from Bolivian orphanages and ra...

General Gina

28 May, 2015 | Emily Gray

While Bolivia's military remains a highly male-dominated institution, there is no question that Gina Reque Teran, the country's first woman to assume the rank of General of the Armed Forces, is breaki...

Happy Aymara New Year!

28 May, 2015 | Emily Gray

PHOTO: ALEXANDRA MELEANThis June 21st marks the 5,523rd Aymara New Year, an annual celebration that attracts 50,000 attendees and is held at the Tiwanaku ruins. The event begins in the evening and con...

Keen on Quinoa - Emily G - Draft

28 May, 2015 | Emily Gray

PHOTO: PABLO PANIAGUA WWW.SINMOTIVO.COMFor thousands of years, quinoa was a cheap, common, staple food grain for the people of the Andes. In recent years, though, the demand for quinoa in western cult...

Psalms and Skulls

28 May, 2015 | Emily Gray

PHOTO: AMARU VILLANUEVA RANCEIf you happen to be in La Paz in November, you’ll find yourself immersed in two Bolivian festivities for the dead: Todos Santos and Las Ñatitas. On the first of the month,...

Día del Mar

28 May, 2015 | Emily Gray

PHOTO: MICHAEL DUNN CACERES Bolivia is one of two landlocked countries in South America, with a long, painful history regarding the sea. On March 23, 1879, Bolivia lost the War of the Pacific to...

Kilometre Zero

28 May, 2015 | Phoebe Roth

PHOTO: NIA HAFThe central station of the red teleférico line is situated next to what used to be La Paz’s only train station. It shut down in 1996 as the tracks had been deteriorating for years, along...

La Playa en la Selva

28 May, 2015 | Phoebe Roth

PHOTO: FINN JUBAKThe Playa Turquesa website shows a slim, bikini-clad blonde lady, reclining on white sand with clear water and sailingboats in the background—what looks like a fancy Mediterranean pac...

Chicken Jugglers

28 May, 2015 | Rodrigo Barrenechea

PHOTO: IVAN RODRIGUEZ PETKOVICThe family that has stolen the hearts of every paceño (especially those who live in the Zona Sur) can still be seen performing its arduous juggling act on Avenida Costane...

Climate Change Hits Bolivia

28 May, 2015 | Phoebe Roth

PHOTO: VILLE MIETTINENToday, climate change presents itself in many ways: photos of polar bears clinging to floating ice caps and cities being encroached upon by the desert are abundant on the web. Bu...

Suspect Drinks

28 May, 2015 | Rodrigo Barrenechea

It remains clear in my mind: the memory of the day I first entered Layka Restaurant on Linares street. More clear yet rests the mental image, burnt into my retina, of the first thing that you see upon...

Desolate and Dangerous Beauty

28 May, 2015 | Phoebe Roth

PHOTO: PHOEBE ROTHFrom the lights of El Alto city at night—a starry sky that, to a London-born city girl, looks like a theatre backdrop—to the sun rising above the clouds, the views climbing Huayna Po...

Urban Cemetery

28 May, 2015 | Phoebe Roth

PHOTO: MICHAEL DUNN CACERESWalking through the general cemetery of La Paz, I was astounded at how strange and different it looked to anywhere I had seen before, with various blocks of what looked like...

La Quinceañera

28 May, 2015 | Phoebe Roth

PHOTO: LINDA MARKLUNDIn Bolivia, fifteen is the age that a girl enters into womanhood, and the quinceañera tradition dictates that an extravagant party is thrown to celebrate this rite of passage. It...

How Many Salchipapas?

28 May, 2015 | Phoebe Roth

PHOTO: NICK SOMERSLegend has it that the man selling salchipapas on the edge of Plaza España has been around for decades. Jackie, who works in the bar Diesel on Avenida 20 de Octubre, claims that when...

Taxi Trivia

28 May, 2015 | Phoebe Roth

PHOTO: AMARU VILLANUEVA RANCESomewhere amongst the abundance of radio taxis and the rather suspect missing-a-headlight cabs, you can find a driver named Mario Durán, who famously challenges his passen...

Michael Jackson is alive

28 May, 2015 | Rodrigo Barrenechea

PHOTO: IVAN RODRIGUEZ PETKOVICOne of the most striking characteristics of La Paz, emerging from the depths of informal labour, is the artistic display of informal shows that take place in the centre o...

Lolita the Kosher Chef

28 May, 2015 | Sharoll Fernandez

PHOTO: NICK SOMERSEvery morning, Lolita leaves her house at 8 am so she can be on time to make the bread. She has been part of the Chabad Lubavitch for four years, working for the rabbi’s family as a...

Don Teo

28 May, 2015 | Sharoll Fernandez

PHOTO: ALEXANDRA MELEAN A.Don Teo has worked for the URME clilnic before it even was an actual clinic. He was first hired to take care of the building while the last construction details were being ma...

The Many Colours of Carnaval

28 May, 2015 | Sophia Vahdati

PHOTO: SZYMON KOCHANSKIOver 200 years old and officially one of UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, the Carnaval de Oruro, a tradition of hedonism and spectacle, rem...

El Chino Renegón

28 May, 2015 | Sophia Vahdati

PHOTO: NICK SOMERSBehind a nameless, unimposing, wooden door on avenida Ecuador is the shabby and famous restaurant, ‘El Chino Renegón’. The name of the place is unofficial, gifted to this delicious T...

El Clásico

28 May, 2015 | Sophia Vahdati

PHOTO: MICHAEL DUNN CACERESPapá Bolívar in our hearts and celestial blue passion running through our veins. The age-old rivalry fuels an ever unpredictable outcome. Win or lose, triumph or defeat—we a...

The Danish Invasion

28 May, 2015 | Sophia Vahdati

PHOTO: JULES TUSSEAUDenmark and Bolivia are worlds apart, both geographically and culturally. Yet a Danish community is emerging in La Paz, made up of more than typical expats who have come to ‘find t...

Football and Food

28 May, 2015 | Sophia Vahdati

PHOTO: Sophia VahdatiWhat the stadium lacks in booze it makes up for in food. The spectacle of colours and fans sweating with passion would not be complete without the array of children, women, and me...

The BX Pets

28 May, 2015 | Valeria Wilde

ILLUSTRATION: MAURICIO WILDEKandinsky the cat was the first of them all. He lived in the BX penthouse on the 19th floor, warming the hearts of the interns who passed by. His death was unexpected. It s...

The Church of Ayahuasca

28 May, 2015 | Valeria Wilde

ILLUSTRATION: MARCO TOXICOFor Andean and Amazonian indigenous cultures in Bolivia, hallucinogenic plants are synonymous  to medicine, spirituality and even religion. Ever since ancestral times, a...

Maraton de La Paz

28 May, 2015 | Valeria Wilde

PHOTO: VALERIA WILDEChristian Conitzer is a scientist, a cyclist and a dreamer who never lost sight of his goal: keeping the Marathon of La Paz alive.  In 2012 and 2013, the first and second mara...

Salteñas

28 May, 2015 | Wilmer Machaca

PHOTO: ALEXANDRA MELEANThe Queen of Street Food, in spite of the grand variety of Street-bought snacks available in Bolivia, the salteña remains both a popular mid-morning snack and a food of celebrat...

El Clásico

28 May, 2015 | Valeria Wilde

PHOTO: JUAN MANUEL LOBATONA Warcry, the gold and black, one passion, unyielding fans and one big heart that never goes cold, that never stops beating. This is what makes us different from them all. We...